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High Resolution X-Ray Spectroscopy with Compound Semiconductor Detectors and Digital Pulse Processing Systems

  • Autori: Abbene, L; Gerardi, G
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2012
  • Tipologia: Capitolo o Saggio (Capitolo o saggio)
  • Parole Chiave: X-ray spectroscopy
  • OA Link:


The advent of semiconductor detectors has revolutionized the broad field of X-ray spectroscopy. Semiconductor detectors, originally developed for particle physics, are now widely used for X-ray spectroscopy in a large variety of fields, as X-ray fluorescence analysis, X-ray astronomy and diagnostic medicine. The success of semiconductor detectors is due to several unique properties that are not available with other types of detectors: the excellent energy resolution, the high detection efficiency and the possibility of development of compact detection systems. Among the semiconductors, silicon (Si) detectors are the key detectors in the soft X-ray band (< 15 keV). Si-PIN diode detectors and silicon drift detectors (SDDs), with moderate cooling by means of small Peltier cells, show excellent spectroscopic performance and good detection efficiency below 15 keV. Germanium (Ge) detectors are unsurpassed for high resolution spectroscopy in the hard X-ray energy band (>15 keV) and will continue to be the choice for laboratory-based high performance spectrometers. However, there has been a continuing desire for ambient temperature and compact detectors with the portability and convenience of a scintillator but with a significant improvement in resolution. To this end, numerous high-Z and wide band gap compound semiconductors have been exploited. Among the compound semiconductors, cadmium telluride (CdTe) and cadmium zinc telluride (CdZnTe) are very appealing for hard X-ray detectors and are widely used for the development of spectrometer prototypes for medical and astrophysical applications. Beside the detector, the readout electronics also plays a key role in the development of high resolution spectrometers. Recently, many research groups have been involved in the design and development of high resolution spectrometers based on semiconductor detectors and on digital pulse processing (DPP) techniques. Due to their lower dead time, higher stability and flexibility, digital systems, based on directly digitizing and processing of detector signals (preamplifier output signals), have recently been favored over analog electronics ensuring high performance in both low and high counting rate environments. In this chapter, we review the research activities of our group in the development of high throughput and high resolution X-ray spectrometers based on compound semiconductor detectors and DPP systems. First, we briefly describe the physical properties and the signal formation in semiconductor detectors for X-ray spectroscopy. Second, we introduce the main properties and critical issues of a X-ray detection system, highlighting the characteristics of both analog and digital approaches. Finally, we report on the spectroscopic performance of a high resolution spectrometer based on a CdTe detector and a custom DPP system. As an application, direct measurements of mammographic X-ray spectra by using the digital CdTe detection system are also presented.